Keeping up with Chicago's North Shore Real Estate Market!

Contact Ann

call or text me: 847-691-1111 or email:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Staging your home to sell

Q. Our old apartment is sitting empty, and not selling. Is it worth the money to hire someone to stage it?

Read on in the New York Times
Market Ready

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

4 Ways to Trim Your Housing Costs Now

Some good thoughts in US News and World Report:
4 Ways to Trim Your Housing Costs Now

Decorating for fall?

"Fall is officially here, and along with the cool, crisp air comes the urge to spruce up and bundle up every room."

Read on in HGTV

Garage Sale

My client is having a garage sale.
Here are the details

Top 10 Most-Searched Housing Markets

Chicago's Number 1!

Illinois sales in August

According to the Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR) latest report,statewide home sales (including single family and condominiums) in August 2011 totaled 10,622 homes sold, up 25.9 percent from 8,434 home sales in August 2010. The statewide median price in August was $149,000, down 5.4 percent from $157,500 in August 2010. 

Here's the complete press release...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tight Lending Blocked Refinancing...

"A new study by the Federal Reserve puts a number on a perplexing issue that has been on the minds of top officials in Washington of late. It finds that tight mortgage-lending standards and dramatic declines in home prices prevented about 2.3 million U.S. homeowners from refinancing last year."

Wall Street Journal
Crash in Home Prices, Tight Lending Blocked 2.3 Million Refis

Chicago home prices rise for 3rd straight month | Residential News | Crain's Chicago Business

Chicago home prices rise for 3rd straight month | Residential News | Crain's Chicago Business

Case-Shiller home price index released today

It's all in the interpretation of the data!
Wall Street Journal
S&P/Case-Shiller home-price data showed sideways movement in July, as prices were boosted from a month earlier thanks to seasonal factors but remained below ....

Market Watch
U.S. home prices in July rose for the fourth straight month, according to data released Tuesday, helped by seasonal factors as well as tentative if halting signs of improvement in housing demand...

Financial Times
US home prices continued to decline in July as an overhang of foreclosures and unsold properties weighed on the housing market...

The latest in home technology

"Ever leave home worried that you forgot to close your garage door? Ever wonder about it thousands of miles from home? Either way, now you're covered."

USA Today
Now you can close your garage door with a smartphone

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rate drop again..

"The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped below 4%, possibly triggering a refinancing boom for many of the same borrowers who already have taken advantage of rock-bottom interest rates."
Read in the Wall Street Journal
Rate Drop Spurs Home Refinancing

Logjam of Chicago foreclosures?

"Chicago region foreclosure cases are taking longer to complete the foreclosure process, resulting in a dramatic drop in foreclosure completions from the first half of 2010 to the first half of 2011, new data from Woodstock Institute show. As fewer cases complete the foreclosure process each quarter, it is likely that the number of homes tied up in the foreclosure process is growing."

Interesting read by Woodstock Institute
New data illustrate a logjam in Chicago region foreclosure processes

Lowest Housing Starts Since World War II

Lowest Housing Starts Since World War II

Thinking about refinancing?

"Mortgage rates are at record lows and should stay that way.... If you are thinking about refinancing..."

Read on in Kiplinger's:
5 Mistakes to Avoid when Refinancing

Which improvements improve the value of your home?

There are improvements that can be recovered when the house is sold (like a new kitchen), but there are things that really don't make much of a difference (like a new roof). There is a distinction between the marketability of a home and increasing the value of a home. I came across this article in Money Crashers and thought they were spot on...

7 Home Improvement & Remodeling Ideas that Increase Home Value (And What to Avoid)

Check out the lender...

"Before buying a house, borrowers will undoubtedly do a thorough check of the property, examining its structural soundness and the surrounding neighborhood, among other things; they will research the best type of loan, comparing interest rates, terms and fees. But not all borrowers do due diligence on their lenders."

interesting read in the New York Times
Vetting the Lender

Buying a NEW home

"Given the bloated supply of existing homes for sale, including a glut of foreclosures, there aren't many people willing to shell out a premium price for a newly built house."

Read in the Wall Street Journal

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Happenings in Wilmette on Sunday

The Bel Sonore Chamber Ensemble will be performing a repertoire ranging from the Baroque music of Telemann and Bach to the jazz standards of Duke Ellington on Sunday, September 25 at 2:00 pm. The event will take place at the Wilmette Public Library, 1242 Wilmette Ave.
Walking Tour of "No Man's Land"  
Join the Wilmette Historical Museum for a walk along the small wedge of land at Wilmette's northern border and hear about the stylish, private beach clubs, a dance hall and an elegant movie palace that shockingly showed Sunday movies. No Man's Land was the unincorporated area between Wilmette and Kenilworth where patrons took advantage of very light policing.

The tour will take place on Sunday, September 25 at 1:00pm and 2:00pm, free of charge. Light refreshments will be served as part of the tour. This event is co-sponsored by Plaza del Lago.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Slump in new mortgage loans

"Mortgage lending declined last year amid weak demand and tight credit standards, with particularly sharp credit contractions in neighborhoods with many foreclosures, according to the Federal Reserve."

Read on in the Wall Street Journal

The new real estate boom: rentals

"Home prices and sales may be flat, but the rental industry is booming. The percentage of renters is on the rise, the number of households is increasing, and more Americans are downsizing, all of which point in a single direction: rents are on the rise."

Read more in Inman News

Don’t expect a lower property tax bill

"Cook County property tax bills are expected to go out the first week of October, and while Chicago and suburban landowners assume their property values have sunk, it may not translate to lower tax bills."

Read on in Chicago Sun-Times

Thursday, September 22, 2011

North Shore News

See all the news of the north shore in Chicago Now:
North Shore real estate news roundup

Banks offering cash incentives...

"To avoid further clogging the already sluggish home foreclosure pipeline, some lenders have been offering cash incentives to strapped homeowners at risk of foreclosure to complete short sales and move out of their homes."

Read more in the New York 
Getting Cash in Exchange for a Short Sale

To downsize or not to downsize? That is the question....

"A lot of boomers want to wait til the housing market improves before downsizing, but the savings of a smaller home make long-term sense."
Read on in Smart Money
The Case for Downsizing Your Home

Operation Twist

"...another goal: lower mortgage rates to encourage more Americans to buy homes or refinance." 

Read on in Smart Money
Operation Twist: No One's Dancing

August Home Sales

"According to the Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR) latest report, statewide home sales (including single family and condominiums) in August 2011 totaled 10,622 homes sold, up 25.9 percent from 8,434 home sales in August 2010. The statewide median price in August was $149,000, down 5.4 percent from $157,500 in August 2010." 
Read on in Market Watch
August Illinois Home Sales Up 25.9 Percent from a Year Ago

"Sales of existing single-family homes in the Chicago area rose 27.6 percent in August from their year-earlier pace..."
Read on in Chicago Tribune
Homebuyers pick up bargains in August

"Existing home sales rose more than expected in August to the fastest annual pace since March, as falling prices and low interest rates drew more buyers into the market, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday."
Read on in the New York Times
U.S. Home Sales Rose in August, but Prices Fell

"The number of Americans who bought previously occupied homes rose in August. But the sales were driven by an increase in foreclosures, a sign that home prices could fall further next year and slow a housing recovery."
Read on in CBS News
Home sales jump 7.7 pct as foreclosures rise

Should I change the color of my walls?

Q. My living room has red walls. Do I really need to repaint them before putting my apartment on the market?

Read on in the New York Times

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The American Style~

"Americans have always wanted the past and the future—the idyllic dream of a mythical past and the magical promise of a perfect tomorrow. These are fantasies, of course, but they are quintessentially American fantasies, intrinsic to the good life that is the American dream—no matter how you get there."

The Wall Street Journal comments on "The American Style" at the Museum of the City of New York and looks at the role the Colonial style has played in our history.  
Symbols of Our Nation

New Illinois mortgage program announced

"The Illinois Hardest Hit Program, to be administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), was announced on September 15 by Governor Pat Quinn. The program utilizes $345 million in federal funds to support working families having trouble making mortgage payments due to unemployment or under-employment."

Read more in IAR Buzz

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Like to cook?

Gale Gand, nationally acclaimed pastry chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, television personality, root beer maker, and mom will be teaching cooking classes at Elawa Farms!

Be sure to sign up if you want to have this unique opportunity to learn from a master!

Next class:
 October 18, 2011 - 11:00 am to 1:00 pm - Pumpkin

Monday, September 19, 2011

Selling your house - TWICE

Lately I've been telling my sellers that when a buyer goes for financing, that my clients are going to have to sell their house twice: once to the buyer and once to the lender.
Read on in the New York Times:
Decoding the Wide Variations in House Appraisals

"SELLING AND BUYING One component of selling a home has always been gauging the emotion of a prospective buyer. But several brokers told me that buyers and sellers who need financing for a home should be concentrating instead on the temperament of the bank lending the money.

'Over the past two years, houses are not worth what the owners want or what the buyers will pay for them,” said Peggy Bates, a broker with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Stamford, Conn. “A house is worth what the appraiser says it is.'"

Trunk Show in Lake Forest

My friend and British Designer, Susanna Stratton-Norris is bring her trunk show to the Deer Path Inn tomorrow and Wednesday.  Hope you can make it!.
Read about her in the New York Times.
See her collection.
More trunk show information.

Nothing like water...

Source: Harvard Business Review...

SEPTEMBER 16, 2011
For Increasing Housing Values, Nothing Rivals Water Views
A view of the water can increase rents up to 57%, far more than any other appealing sight, including farmland, parks, and even a famous landmark, say Andrea Baranzini and Caroline Schaerer of the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland, who studied rentals in Geneva. Views of that city's Jet d'Eau fountain and of the ancient cathedral generate higher rents of just 3.6% and 7.4%, respectively. A view of an urban park decreases rents.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why use a buyers broker?

"In this do-it-yourself era of online real estate listings, it is easy to find out what is on the market, visit open houses and even research sales data to come up with a reasonable price to offer for a home.
So why should a buyer bother using an agent?
In a nutshell: to protect his or her interests in an expensive, often complex purchase...." 

New York Times
The Buyer’s Broker - Getting Started

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Foreclosures up

"Illinois home foreclosure activity rose 17.6 percent in August compared to the previous month."

Read on in Crain's Chicago Business

Looking for energy savings?

"For new-home buyers, green is the color of money.  The share of homes being built in the U.S. with environmentally friendly features jumped to 16% of single-family starts last year from 2% in 2006, says McGraw-Hill Construction, a market-research firm in New York. Fueling the trend, industry officials say, is a desire to save energy at a time of high fuel costs. Indeed, in a recent survey, 93% of builders named increased energy efficiency as an important green practice—far more than cited any other benefit." 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Time to invest in real estate?

"Traditional investments are delivering low returns, and home prices are at bargain levels. Is it time to consider buying some rental housing?
Investing in real estate right now can be surprisingly profitable, if everything goes well..."

Wall Street Journal

Betty Bash - Friday, September 16

The major fundraiser for Mother Trust is the ever popular Betty Bash: an evening for women to gather for themed fun and camaraderie for a good cause. This year's event will be a Girl's Night Out party at the Lake County Forest Preserve's beautiful, new Greenbelt Cultural Center. Check out everything at the Mother's Trust!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A thought for the day...

Q: How many houses are too many to look at?
A: If they're looking at more than 20, and they're really serious in their search, then the buyer doesn't know what they want or they haven't been able to communicate that. The buyer after 15 places, even in different neighborhoods, should be very educated on what's out there. As for that perfect house that may be just around the corner, you've already seen it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Selling at a loss might be the right idea...

Selling at a loss may be the right solution...
Read more in Think Glink
Selling House At A Loss Might Have Benefits

Plant a tree!

Wilmette residents can have a tree planted on the parkway as part of the Village's Cooperative Tree Planting Program by sharing the cost of a new tree. The Cooperative Tree Planting program allows residents to select a tree from a list of different species with the option to upgrade to a larger size. Participation in the shared-cost, cooperative planting program allows the Village to maximize the number of trees planted annually, which helps keep our community green!

For the Fall 2011 Cooperative Tree Planting Applications, follow this link for the Ash Replacement Cooperative Tree Planting Application or the General Cooperative Tree Planting Application.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Refinancing program push

"The White House is pushing to revamp an existing federal program to allow more Americans with government-backed loans to refinance, and a federal regulator is weighing changes to accommodate that effort, according to people familiar with the matter."

The Wall Street Journal
White House Regulator Considering Refinance Program Revamp

"The Obama administration is seeking to broaden access to a two-year-old refinancing program that has helped far fewer homeowners take advantage of low interest rates than initially expected."
The New York Times
White House Plans Effort to Refinance Mortgages

Rates aren't spurring home buying....

You’d think a 4.12% average interest rated on a fixed 30-year mortgage would spur some buying and/or refinancing of home loans, but that hasn’t been the case.

Wall Street Journal
If 4.12% Mortgages Don’t Spur Home Buying, What Will?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pay now to benefit!

Paying more now can generate big savings later.

US News and World Report:
4 Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Quicker

Fix your roof!

"Last year’s severe winter was a costly beatdown for homeowners who don’t understand ice dams, those frozen chunks that block their roof gutters and allow snow and ice to pile up. "

New York Times

Living Well

"Sheila and Peter Potter are professional nomads: home-stagers who move into empty properties with their antique furniture and art, creating a timeworn look in a matter of weeks."

New York Times:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Refi's down

"The latest weekly mortgage application survey released .. by the Mortgage Bankers Association makes no sense. Mortgage applications fell 4.9 percent overall, with applications to purchase a home essentially flat and applications to refinance down 6.3 percent."

Realty Check from CNBC

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Appealing your Cook County taxes

Starting today, Cook County homeowners are able to file online appeals of their property tax assessments.
Property owners previously had to file paperwork in person to appeal tax assessments. They can now access the free online filing system at

Getting that lower rate...

"With mortgage rates at a 50-year low and banks near his Brookline, N.H., home touting offers of 4% or less, Tom Rogers thought it would be a perfect time to refinance. But in spite of a solid credit score, after an exhaustive survey of lenders in the area and online, Mr. Rogers couldn't find a single one willing to give him such a rock-bottom rate. He eventually settled for a mortgage almost a full percentage point higher than what he had hoped for."

Wall Street Journal:

Mortgage Rates Plumb the Depths, but Hard Part Is Getting That Quote

Monday, September 5, 2011

Refinancing the "under water" mortgage

"Many whose homes have fallen in value feel stranded with underwater mortgages."

New York Times
Refinancing While Underwater

Walking Tour: "A Stroll Through Time"

The Wilmette Historical Museum is offering a  tour on Saturday, September 10, 2011 from 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., giving families with younger children the opportunity to learn about one of Wilmette's historic neighborhoods, the Ouilmette North Historic District, designated in 2005 by the National Register of Historic Places.  Goodie bags with crayons and a coloring book of Wilmette landmarks will be provided for young children and participants are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch as the tour will finish at a local park with refreshments. The tour is free but reservations are required by phoning the Wilmette Historical Museum at (847) 853-7666. The meeting location will be given upon registration.

The Green Home

Why stage?

"Staging, for those of you who have never flicked on the HGTV cable channel, is the process of decluttering, rearranging and otherwise dressing up your home to make it appeal to a broad array of potential buyers." 

Chicago Tribune
The art and psychology of home staging

Going fishing?

"Is now the time to buy the vacation home of your dreams? That cottage by the lake, in the woods or on a golf course is a lot more affordable than it was five years ago."

Chicago Tribune

Friday, September 2, 2011

Gardening -- French style!

"In most things French, gardening being no exception, style and artistry are paramount. These characteristics are just as evident in a potager (kitchen garden) as they are the parterres (low, ornamental gardens with paths between the beds) of a chateau—all are executed with equally deft skill."

Great read for garden lovers in the Wall Street Journal
That Garden Je Ne Sais Quoi

Is your home at risk?

Interesting read in the Wall Street Journal
Earthquakes, Hurricanes: Is Your Home at Risk?

US to sue big banks

"The federal agency that oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is set to file suits against more than a dozen big banks, accusing them of misrepresenting the quality of mortgage securities they assembled and sold at the height of the housing bubble, and seeking billions of dollars in compensation."

US Is Set to Sue a Dozen Big Banks Over Mortgages

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Another government bailout?

"With home prices still falling, new mortgage delinquencies rising again, millions of mortgages already in the foreclosure pipeline, and consumer confidence in the housing market near nil, President Obama is expected to include some new housing fix in his post-Labor Day speech to the nation on jobs and the economy.
While several ideas have been floating around Washington, the one getting the most traction is a new mortgage refinance program, helping more borrowers take advantage of today's near-historic low interest rates."

Read more in Realty Check, CNBC
Another Federal Housing Bailout Won't Happen